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daisy7 July 6th, 2005 08:48 AM

ego state therapy

Just wondering if you can give me some additional information on ego state therapy. In one of your responses to a previous post of mine you wrote..."The process of getting to know the occupants of the house can take time and effort, through ego state therapy".
My therapist has not mentioned ego states once and we have been doing EMDR for months.

1. I am wondering if there is something one can do for themselves to deal with ego states?

2. As well, how does one know that there are ego states within them needing attention?

3. Does the fact that someone has self-mutilated in the past (just one episode of mutitating over a period of a month and never before this time) mean that there are definitely ego states needing therapy?

Thank you

Sandra Paulsen July 6th, 2005 01:32 PM

Re: ego state therapy
An EMDR therapist can do EMDR and never mention ego state therapy, because EMDR was developed without reference to ego state therapy. However, more and more EMDR practitioners include ego state therapy in their work both as a cognitive interweave and to prepare the more complicated cases for EMDR work.

Ego state therapy (EST) was develped by Dr Jack Watkins and Helen Watkins. I first combined it with EMDR in 1992. Now it is used widely by many practitioners.

The purpose of it is to give a voice to parts of the self that have been disowned. EMDR gets stuck sometimes when something inside gets pushed away or disowned or dissociated. EST is a way to reenlist that forsaken part of self in the work.

Its not safe for any practitioner to do EMDR (standard protocol) on trauma on a highly dissociative client without first doing containment and stabilization as well as ego state work to prepare the self system for trauma work.

Most people aren't highly dissociative, but many people do have disowned parts of self. Its on a continuum.

Many people can do exercises to get to know themselves, including disowned states, but its pretty hard to do the difficult pieces without help. That's because the defenses protect against full knowing of these parts, often because of the misbelief that the old dangers are still present when they are not. The defensive parts of self loyally and courageously continue to fight the old wars, tho the war is over externally. It lives on internally. Like those Japanese soldiers that were found in the mountains of a remote Phillipine island decades after WWII was over. They didn't know it was present day and the war was over.

So that's the limiting factor in doing ones own ego state work.

Still, its possible for some to imagine an internal conference room and invite any part of self that has something to say about a given issue (say, the current job problem), and be open to whatever comes to mind. Even non-dissociative people may see aspects of self that surprise them. Journaling while inviting those parts to contribute can produce good results. There's a workbook called "Castle of the Pearl" that has some interesting exercises in this regard, though its not really an ego state book.

No, the easiest way to do EST is with an EST therapist. The 2nd World Congress of EST will be held in South Africa in Feb 2006. For EMDR practitioners, there are typically numerous presentations at the EMDRIA conference, such as the one scheduled for Seattle in Sept 2005, that include ego state work. I typically present on that subject but this year will present on a specific phase of EST work on complex cases with my colleague Joan Golston, namely, 43 Secrets of Successful Stabilization: Taming the Storm. Other presentations will cover the basics I imagine, since its quite widespread now.

daisy7 July 6th, 2005 03:40 PM

Re: ego state therapy
thank you so much. Just 2 additional questions.

Do you have any other resources I can use for self help on ego states?

As well, what are your thoughts on ego states and self mutilation? Is it a separate ego state that is doing the self mutilating.

Sandra Paulsen July 7th, 2005 07:09 PM

Re: ego state therapy
John G Watkins and Helen Watkins "Ego States"

Maggie Phillips and Claire Fredericks "Healing the Divided Self"

Gordon Emmerson "Ego State Therapy"

Self mutiliation can be done by one part to itself on command or to relieve pain, or by one part against another part out of lack of awareness that they are in the same body. Or other reasons.

Carol Ann Rowland July 7th, 2005 10:26 PM

Re: ego state therapy
Hi Daisy,

I would also highly recommend "Stranger in the Mirror".

It may not directly address doing ego state work...I think it does a little bit...but I find it an excellent resource for people seeking to understand the different experiences regarding parts of self, and the whole range of the dissociative continuum, and very much normalizes some of the various experiences that people have.

Take care,

Carol Ann

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